A. Here’s the problem:
In a courtroom, you can't win your case without a sufficient amount of compelling evidence. Likewise, you may make potentially thoughtful, even important statements about characters, themes, images, or scenes in literature, but you can't convince me if I don’t know what led you to make that statement. The interpretation is there but not the supporting evidence. Occasionally, evidence is given, but it does not match or support the idea it is attached to.
B. What to do:
Evidence, which I will also refer to as concrete detail, generally takes two forms in an expository paragraph. If you have a sentence or two from the text which illustrate the point you want to make, quote the passage verbatim. On the other hand, if your example is an entire scene, write a sentence or phrase briefly establishing the connection between your idea and the relevant action or scene.
C. Example: I was immediately attracted to Darcy early on because of his distinct distaste for the stupidity of high society’s traditions, and his want to separate himself from that which he found useless. I also believe Darcy was more clever than merely shy because . . .
Corrected Version: I was immediately attracted to Darcy early on because of his distinct distaste for the stupidity of high society’s traditions, and his want to separate himself from that which he found useless. His standing apart at the Netherfield Ball and his distaste for the insipid chatter of Mrs. Bennet and Lady Lucas reveal good judgment as much as pride. I also believe Darcy was more clever than merely shy because . . .
D. Now you try—write a revised version of the following passage.
1. The marriage of Charlotte to Mr. Collins is established on false pretenses. Charlotte weds Mr. Collins for his prominent social status and remarkable wealth. She convinces herself that she is in love with the dimwitted Collins. Charlotte is entranced by her new lifestyle and social position, and is thus blind to Collins’ undesirable qualities. “Mr. Collins was not a sensible man, and the deficiency of nature had been but little assisted by education or society.”
E. For more information or additional practice, check the following sources: